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1. Causes of Stress - Work


Aim: To compare the psychological and physiological stress response in two different types of workers.


  • Quasi Experiment
  •  2 groups of workers (highrisk of stress/control group)
  •  Data was collected through urine samples, questionnaires and absence records.

Participants: 24 workers at a sweedish sawmill. High risk group were 14 finishers on a production line. Finishing of wood at the last stage of processing timber. The work was machine paced, isolated, very repetive yet skilled. Their productivity determined te wage of the entire mill. Control group were 10 maintenance/cleaners whos work was more varied, self paced and more socialised.



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Design: Independent measures design

Procedure: Participants gave urine samples arriving at work and 4 times throughout the day. Completed self reports on a VAS.

  • Catecholamine levels were measured in the urine.
  • Absence recordss
  • VAS of words such as sleepiness, wellbeing, irritation etc

Results: Adrenaline levels for the high risk group increased over the day whereas the control group decreased to just under the baseline of 100. 

Conclusion: The results suggests that aspects of the high risk groups work role did affect the stress levels. Specifically the machine paced production line plus the complex nature of their work. 

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2.Causes Of Stress - Hassles & Life Events

Kanner et al 

Aim: Compare the hassles and uplifts scale and the berkman life events scale as predictors of psychological symptoms of stress.


  • Repeated design participants completed hassles rating scale and life events scale. 
  • Results correlayed with their psychological symptoms of stress using the hopkins symptom checklist and the bradburn marele scale. 

Participants: 100 people from california. White, Well off and well educated.

Procedure: All tests sent out by post one month before study began. HSUP every month for 9, Berkman after 10 months and hscl and bradburn every month for 9.

Results: HSUP correlated + with psychological symptoms on hopkins scale. more hassles more negative symptoms reported.

Conclusion: Hassles more powerful predictors of psychological symptoms. 

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Causes of Stress - Lack of Control

Geer & Maisel

Aim: To see if control or prediction can reduce stress reactions to aversive stimuli. 

Method: Lab experiment. Ps shown pictures of dead car crash victims and their stress levels were measure by GSR and heart rate electrodes. 

Participants: 60 psychology UG's from NYU.

Design: Independent measures, participants randomly assigned to one of three conditions. 

1. given control over how long they saw the picture for, press a button to determine photo and told a tone would precede each photo. 

2. yoked to group 1. warned photos would be 60 seconds apart. 10 second warnin g tone to precede each photo could predict what would happen.

3. yoked to group 1, told from time to time they would see photos and hear tones. had no control or predictability.

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Procedure: Ps were seated in a sound shielded room and wired up to GSR & heart rate monitors. The machine calibrated for 5 mins while the ps relaxed and then a baseline measurement was taken. Instructions read and after 1 min rest stimuli was presented. GSR analyses were taken at the onset of the tone, during the second half of the tone and in response to the photograph. 

Results: Heart Rate monitors proved innacurate, data discarded.

Group 2 had high GSR readings

Group 1 experienced lower GSR readings in response to photos than groups 2 & 3

Conclusions: Participants showed less GSR reaction, indicating less stress, when they had control over the length of time they looked at the photos. 

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2.Measuring Stress

1. Physiological measures

Urine test for catcholamine 

  • Used in study by Johansson
  • Strengths - relaible & objective
  • Weaknesses - Isnt cheap & individual differences

Galvanic Skin Responce meter (GSR) 

  • Used in study by Geer and Maisel
  • Strengths - reliable, fast, objective
  • Weaknesses- individual differences, room temp, eaten 

2. Self Reports

Hassles and Uplifts Scale

Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)

3. Combined Method


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3. Managing Stress - Cognitive

Meichenbaum - Stress Innoculation Therapy

"Stress is in the eye of the beholder"

Aim: Comparison of SIT with systematic decensitisation and control group on a waiting list.

Method: Field experiments, stdents assessed before and after treatment using self report and grades. Blind situation. 

Participants: 21 students aged 17-25, responded to advert for treatment of test anxiety. 

Design: Matched pairs design with random allocation to the SIT, control group and systematic decensitisation group. Gender was controlled as was anxiety levels.

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Procedure: Tested using an anxiety questionnaire. Told they would be doing 10 tests and assessed using an anxiety adjective checklist. They were given a baseline score and allocated to their group.

SIT - Ps recieved 8 therapy sessions. Given 'insight' approach to help them identify their thoughts before hand. Also given some positive statements to say and relaxation texhniques to use in test situations. 

Systematic Decensitisation - Given 8 therapy sessions with progressive relaxtion training that were encouraged to practise at home. Told to practise relaxtion while imagining progressivley more anxiety causing situation. 

Control group - Told they were on a waiting list and would receive therapy in the future. 

Results: Performance on the tests improved in the SIT group compared with the other 2. Significant difference was between the two therapy and the control. SIT group ps showed more reported improvement. 

Conclusion: SIT is a more effective way of reducing anxiety in students who are anxiety prone in test situations. 

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Managing Stress - Behavioural

Budsynski - Biofeedback 

Aim: To see if previous research on biofeedback as a method of reducing tension headaches was due to the placebo effect or whether biofeedback was an effective method of reducing tension headaches. 

Method: Experimental method. Patients being trained in a lab, and data collected by measurement of muscle tension using an electromyograph. A psychometric depression test was handed to participants to complete about their headaches. 

Participants: 18, replied to an advert in a newspapaer in colorado. 2 males, 16 females aged 22-44. 

Design: Independent Measures Design. Ps randomly placed in 3 groups of 6. 

  • Group A - Biofeedback sessions with relaxaton training and EMG feedback
  • Group B - Relaxation training but only pseudofeedback. Tape recording of real feedback. 
  • Group C - Control group told they were on a waiting list but asked to come to lab for appointments to control. 
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Procedure: 2 weeks paients kept a record of their headaches rating them for 0 (mild) to 5 (severe) every hour. This gave baseline reading. Took MMPI whoich tested depression, hysteria and hypochondria.

Groups A & B were given 16 sessions of training, with 2 each week for 8 weeks. Group A were told clicks of machine would reflect muscle tension. Group B were told to concentrate on the varying clicks. Both groups told to practise relacation at home for 15-20 mins.

Group C had mo training but told they were to begin in 2 months. 

Each Ps recorded their headache activity. 

After 3 months groups A & B were given an EMG test and completed a questionnaire and MMPI. 

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Results: Group A's muscle tension was significantly lower than B's by the end of training and again after 3 months. 

Group A's reported headaches dropped significantly from the baseline whereas the others didnt. 

MMPI showed high levels of hysteria, depression and hypochondriasis for all groups at the start of the study. After training all reduced but only group A showed a significant reduction in hypochondriasis. 

Follow up for group A after 18 months, when 4/6 were contacted. 3 reported very low headache activity and the fourth reported some. 

Conclusions: Biofeedback is an effective way of treating patients to relax and reduce their tension headaches, so can be seen as an effective method of stress management. 

Relaxation training more effective than being monitored but works better together with biofeedback. 

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Managing Stress - Social Support

Waxler- Morrison - Social relationships and cancer survival

Aim: To look at how a womans social relationships influence her response to breast cancer and survival. 

Method: Quasi-experiment with woman who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Info was gathered using questionnaires and 18 interviews, plus examining medical records. The woman naturally fitted into categories based on their existing social support networks. 

Participants: 133 women under 55 years who had been refered to a clinic in vancouver with a confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer. 

Design: Independent measures deisng of women with different levels of ongoing and existing social networks. 

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Procedure: Ps sent a self adminstered wuestionnaire to gather info on things such as demography, education level, contacts, children etc and also a psychometric test of social network that combined marital status, contact with friends and families and church membership. 

Details of their diagnosis was taken from their medical recordss between june 1980 and may 1981 and survical and reaccurance rates. 

Results: The six aspects specifically linked with survival were; marital status, support from friends, contact with friends, total support, social network and employment. 

Qualitative data showed practical help such as childcare and cooking were concrete aspects of support. Married woman who survived tended to report supportive spouses but often complex relations with kids who also needed support. Jobs also supportive. 

Conclusions: Many characteristivs of a womans social networks including marriage and employment are significantly related to survival sothe more social networks and support the higher the survival rate of women with breast cancer.

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